Pistonpusher documentation

This is the pistonpusher documentation landing page. It also serves as an introduction.

What is pistonpusher

Pistonpusher is an add-on that can quickly rig pistons/actuators in a special way. There are also features that help placing them. These pistons are special in the sense that they are far more flexible than pistons made with bare minimum solutions. They are modular, come with their own armatures and use empties and drivers to provide control. They can also be posed in object mode!

Advantages

  • Pistons can exist out of any number of objects.
  • Individual elements can rotate freely, think of the rod, mounts and cylinder themselves.
  • Pistons can easily be made longer and shorter. In both retracted/extended states. This behavior is disabled with a single click.(2 if you count selecting the piston’s length anchor)
  • (inverted) telescopic pistons are supported.
  • Pistons are easily removed from a scene.
  • Easy to place and connect to a model/armature. There a multiple snap tools, including a piston replace tool, for quick changes!
  • Custom object and collection management system to keep order among all these objects.(No duplicate names if you took the time to name objects)
  • Instances of a type are derived from the first instance that was placed meaning you can edit multiple pistons in a target scene easily.
  • Materials can be added beforehand.
  • Very flexible.

Why/Who?

This add-on tries to prevent some repetitive tasks and makes sure no time is wasted! You’ll always be able to take a design ‘back to the drawing board’ in case major changes are required. It’s most useful in mechanical set ups that require tweaking/adjustment before it can be animated properly. Like a landing gear for example.

So there’s potential for concept artists but also animators. They animate well, joints can be included. Pistonpusher does most of the leg-work and offers a solid way to re-use your pistons. You essentially just attach the piston to your model/rig/character. Keeping the animation data of your target model separate in most cases. If need be, a piston can also be stripped of its armature so that it can be incorporated into another armature.

What can it not do?

Pistonpusher is a dedicated solution for pistons/actuators. It’s not a general purpose rigging kit. Any tools provided in the scope of general rigging, like the set bone as parent tool, or the bone selection mode of the set child of tool, really just make it easier to work with modular rigs. Mainly by streamlining the process of mode switching.

Other features:

  • Multiple creation systems.
  • Copy booleans tool.
  • Piston snap tool and modal.
  • Custom Snap selected to active.
  • Set bone as parent tool.
  • Set child-of tool.
  • Linked duplicate radial arrays.
  • Multi-place.
  • Track to and apply/WAT.
  • Toggle viewport visibility of all subd modifiers.
  • Overlays.
  • Asset/Collection management.

FREE version features:

As of version 4.0.1 a free version has been released. It comes without any creation related features. The documentation index indicates which features are in the free version but otherwise they'll refer to the same docs.

  • Piston snap tool and modal.
  • Custom Snap selected to active.
  • Set bone as parent tool.
  • Set child-of tool.
  • Linked duplicate radial arrays.
  • Multi-place.
  • Toggle viewport visibility of all subd modifiers.
  • Asset/Collection management.